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Can a Generator Power an Air Conditioner?

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Central air conditioning makes it simple to keep your home at a comfortable temperature year-round. However, if a storm, power surge, or localized electrical outage strikes your area, you may be left without access to it.

Can a Generator Power an Air Conditioner?

Yes, a portable generator can provide the energy needed to run your central air conditioner. The power of a portable generator isn't limited to running small electronics during blackouts; it may also keep energy-intensive home systems running.

If you plan to use a portable generator to power an air conditioner and other essential appliances, you need to make sure it can handle the load.

What do you need to think about

To keep small, low-wattage items running in the event of a power outage, portable generators are often considered. Actually, one of the most common purposes for a portable generator is to keep essential household systems running in the event of an electrical outage.

There is a wide range of generators available, each with its own distinct combination of features, the most important of which are the amount of power it can generate and the length of time its batteries can hold a charge.

The key is to get a generator whose wattage output is at least marginally higher than what the air conditioner calls for. How much electricity a generator produces is measured in watts.

Starting and running watts

The two most crucial parameters are the starting and running watts. When first turned on, a generator needs more power to get appliances going. Before settling down and needing less load, aka the appliances running watts.

Verifying these figures for everything you plan to power on with the same generator is essential for preventing accidents.

Installing a portable generator as a backup for your central air conditioning system requires careful attention. If your generator is not already wired to a separate circuit breaker, you will need to have an electrician install a transfer switch.

This allows electricity from a portable generator to be fed into the grid. At this point, you can hook up your generator. As it includes potentially deadly electrical wiring, it's best left to experts.

Your Requirements for the Air Conditioner

Air conditioners come in a wide range of sizes, which means a wide range of generator watts will be needed to power them. 

A typical window air conditioner will have a starting power of about 5100 watts and an operating power as low as 1700 watts. However a lot of central air conditioners normally function at 3500 running watts. 

The easiest approach to find out how much load you need is to test it yourself. Check the AC manual for a listing of the system's startup and running wattages. This is the only way to determine the exact amount of power your air conditioner needs.

How much electricity does a central air conditioner require?

The amount of electricity required by central air conditioning equipment is based on a few variables. In comparison to newer, more efficient systems, the electricity used by older, poorly maintained air conditioners will be much higher.

The load or BTU pressure needed to cool the home is the major consideration when calculating the cooling system's energy requirement.

More money will need to be spent on running the air conditioner to keep the temperature stable in a large room. A standard central air conditioner uses about 3,500 W an hour, which is equivalent to 12,000 BTUs.

If you want to be on the safe side, go with a portable generator that can put out between 6,000 and 8000 Watts. The efficiency and power needs of wall air conditioners are lower than those of window models, but they can be more easily powered by a portable generator.

Would a 2,000-watt generator be sufficient to power an air conditioner?

A 2,000-watt generator is probably not sufficient to run an air conditioning system. It would take more than two thousand watts per hour of electricity to adequately cool and ventilate most rooms.

Still, a portable generator with a capacity of 3,000–4,500 watts could be enough. 

How to power a HVAC system with your generator

In the dead of winter, your power goes out. It can be hours before the system is activated again. So, what should you do? If you need heat and live in a cold location, a generator can be hooked up to your central air conditioning and heating unit.

If you decide to go this route, you should get everything ready well in advance of the expected power loss. Here are some things you can do to be sure your generator can supply heat when you need it.

Transfer switch

In most homes, the heater is hardwired into the electrical system. The connection between the generator and the furnace cannot be made without first installing a transfer switch between the HVAC and the circuit breaker.

This installation should be handled by a licensed electrician. If a transfer switch is not already installed, you should consult with an electrician before proceeding.


Before doing anything else, you must switch off the HVAC circuit breaker. In order to prevent electrocution, make sure the power is off. Gather up everything you'll need next. You should have everything you need to complete the project, including wire cutters, an extension cord, and the generator.


The HVAC power supply must be disconnected at the circuit breaker. Then, connect a plug to the circuit breaker box. Make sure the wires are run from the circuit breaker to the HVAC with the extra outlet so that the generator may be plugged in as needed.

Install the plug

Plugs are often installed on the side of the unit. The next step is to reconnect the HVAC and activate it. Make sure the system is still working properly and that it can be powered by the generator.

Plug in the generator

The generator should be placed in a safe area. Since it gives off carbon monoxide, it shouldn't be stored inside or in a closed garage. As an added precaution, keep it out of the reach of both water and children. If the power goes out, you can keep your home warm by running an extension cord from outside to the generator.

The Best Portable Generators for Air Conditioners

Here are some of the greatest generators you can buy to power a standard air conditioner:

Honda EU7000iS

Honda 664280 EU7000ISNAN 120V/240V 7000-Watt 389cc 5.1 Gallon Inverter Generator with Co-Minder

This is a super quiet generator, one of the quietest on the market. The Honda generator is perfect for people who value silence. It also happens to be an excellent generator, even ignoring the issue of noise. Honda produces a great range of generators, and this is one of their most popular. 

First, let's have a look at how loud this generator is. At a 25% load, people should expect to hear noise levels of around 50 dB. That sort of output has never been seen before from a generator of this scale. If you want to minimize your noise output without resorting to extreme measures, this is your best bet.

Even though its power for its size is average, its silent operation is remarkable. The Honda generator engine it contains is among the most cutting-edge and efficient on the market today. As a result of its high degree of flexibility, it is great for both private and professional use.

Fuel economy is not an issue, due to Honda's use of "electronic fuel injection technology" making it very fuel efficient. Which is important if you are running an air conditioner constantly. 

If things happen to go wrong, Honda owners can rely on superb customer service and generous warranties. These generators have a standard three-year warranty and the manufacturers are willing to address any issues promptly. While this generator is a bit costly, it still provides value for money.

Westinghouse WGEN7500

Westinghouse Outdoor Power Equipment 9500 Peak Watt Home Backup Portable Generator, Remote Electric Start with Auto Choke, Transfer Switch Ready 30A Outlet, Gas Powered, CARB Compliant

This option is slightly more potent than what some people need, but it's still a viable choice. It's famous for being portable in any situation, having an exceptionally long battery life, and being easy to use using a remote. The majority of tasks can be completed without the need for the person to be near the generator.

Numerous options exist for connecting devices to the generator, including the transfer switch, the ready twist-lock outlet, and the 120 volt outlets on the unit itself. It has great safety measures so that parents may feel comfortable using it even if their young children will be around.

If the generator is maintained properly, it should last for many years. It can take a beating from the weather and keep on ticking over if you keep up with the scheduled maintenance. It comes with oil and a toolkit, making it easy to undertake basic maintenance without paying a mechanic.

It has an average decibel level of 73 when used routinely, which is about the same as a normal conversation between two people. While it's true that no generator is completely silent, it's also true that with some planning, you shouldn't be able to hear too much outside when this generator is running.

Pulsar 7750W

Pulsar 7, 750W Dual Fuel Portable Generator with Switch & Go Technology, PG7750B

The Pulsar generator is an excellent option for anyone looking for a dual fuel generator that can use either gasoline or propane. The generator stands out because of how easily fuel can be changed while the unit is running.

This generator is easily portable thanks to its no-flat rubber wheels. Extending handles can be stored out of the way when they are not in use.

The generator has many different outputs and outlets. There are four standard-style 120-volt outlets available for usage with common household equipment. There are also two twist-lock receptacles, one with 120 volts and the other with 240 volts that may be turned on and off.

The device's computerized display, together with an oil alert light, keeps tabs on vital processes. The electric start and straightforward LED display make this generator a breeze to operate.

The dual-fuel capability of this generator stands out the most. Its switch and go system is an innovative method that enables a seamless fuel swap without interrupting machine operation.

Champion 8000 Dual Fuel

Champion 8000-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator with Electric Start

You can't go wrong with this dual-fuel generator, especially in colder climates or throughout the winter. The electric starter with cold start technology allows you to power the generator even in subzero temperatures.

This generator has a fuel switching system that allows for flexibility. Both propane and gasoline can be used to power it.

While the product's patented Volt Guard technology makes it relatively safe for sensitive electronics, we still recommend a genuine inverter generator.

The status of the generator's operation and fuel supply may be easily checked thanks to the digital display. The convenience of the electric starter greatly enhances the usability of this generator.

For the most part, the Champion 8000 delivers satisfactory results. At half capacity, the machine's 6-gallon petrol tank will keep it running for up to 8 hours.

It will run for 5.5 hours on propane. It's easy to start in bad weather and works well with a wide range of fuels. Thanks to its innovative cold start technology, this unit can be started rapidly even during severe winter storms with high winds.

At 74 decibels measured from 23 feet away, this generator is louder than other competitors. It's not much noisier than chatter in a quiet room, though.

If you need a powerful dual fuel 7500 watt generator that can operate in higher altitudes but aren't very concerned about noise, the Champion 8000 is worth looking into.

Final thoughts

Portable generators can be a lifesaver for homeowners experiencing power outages. Power surges or outages are a random, unavoidable occurrence when it comes to electricity. Having a backup generator that you can turn on when necessary is essential for keeping your home's essentials running smoothly.

The generator's power output needs to be taken into account so that all the necessary devices can be powered in the event of an emergency. With some preparation and research, you may select the best portable generator to keep you calm when severe and unexpected issues arise.

About Tom Bell

Hey, I’m Tom, the owner of Generator Reviews! I built this website to help you get the very most out of your generator and select the correct one for your personal circumstances. This site contains reviews of virtually every generator, detailed buying guides, as well as maintenance advice to help you keep yours in tip-top shape!


Generator.Reviews is an independent review business. I am not affiliated with any manufacturers and do not accept paid reviews. When you buy through my links, I may earn a commission which helps me to maintain this website and keep the reviews coming your way!

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